2CAudio Kaleidoscope – Sound creation goes unlimited


Perhaps not infinite, but surely close enough – the sound shaping capabilities of 2CAudio’s Kaleidoscope are immense and the overall approach from a UI perspective really pushes the envelope. After having spent some days in the Stereoklang studio with Kaleidoscope it is quite clear that the team behind Kaleidoscope still feel there is room for new and intriguing machines capable of realizing new sounds rather than jumping on the ‘legacy synth clone revival bandwagon’. We guess it is perhaps not the extensive use of resonators, granular delays and various other filters (more on this topic later) that is really the main USP here, but rather the sonic breadth that materializes in front of you. For us, the ability to really explore an audio stream down to an atomic level is quite unique, fine tuning individual wave forms and dynamically change its expression is very interesting, if you are for example working with experimental type music. We also believe Kaleidoscope has a clear space to play in live performances – leaving the tool to work in auto-mode but tweaking the sound all through the performance.

It uses a new take on an old technique – using graphics to control sound.  Back in the 1950s, Percy Grainger in Australia and New York, Daphne Oram in the UK, and Evgeny Murzhin in Russia, had all devised means of using graphics to control oscillators.

Of these, the one that survived was Murzhin’s ANS synth, which is today available as the Virtual ANS softsynth for just about all platforms.  And other graphic programs, such as Coagula, Meta-Synth, AudioPaint and Photosounder, among others, have all used a similar method to produce sound controlled by graphics.  In some of these programs, a sound is analysed with a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to produce a sonogram of the sound.  This, or a graphic specially made in a drawing program is then converted into sound with sine-wave, or other waveform, oscillators, one per horizontal row of pixels, summed to make the final sound.

Kaleidoscope has chosen a different approach, it uses a massively parallel bank of physically-modeled resonators, one per horizontal row of pixels to make the sound.  And the tuning of these resonators can be controlled incredibly precisely.  The timbre of these resonators is controlled with a series of feedback, damping, and soft wave-shaping controls.  And then the amplitude of the resonators is controlled with graphics, which are labeled “image maps.”  There are two of these, and they can be scanned through at different rates, combining to produce very long sequences of sound.  If a sound is fed through the resonators and they are tuned properly, one can get quite amazing processing of the input sound with the use of interesting tunings and image maps.  If no sound is fed through, but the “white noise” source is turned up full, Kaleidoscope can act as a sound synthesizer.  And if the base frequency of the given scale is tuned very low, Kaleidoscope can even act as a filter, a delay or other effects generator.

Here’s an example of Kaleidoscope loaded as a VST in Reaper (DAW) with focus on experimental type sounds:

Kaleidoscope is an AU/VST/AAX plugin effect based on a huge bank of parallel physically modeled resonators, modelling the way either strings or springs resonate, and applied independently to the left and right channels. Both model types act like filters, accentuating certain frequencies and attenuating others, causing resonant frequencies to ring over a period of decay time. In total we have four resonator modes (One String, Two Strings, One Spring and Two Springs), plus FIR, which delivers granular delay, regular delay and reverb-like effects – and depending on the number of resonators involved at any one time (up to 512) you have quite an amazing and unique toolbox at your disposal.


Naturally we have not worked our way all through the massive library of pre-sets available, but it is clear that the plethora of sounds and patterns that can be generated with the base in these pre-sets will keep you busy for quite some time. There are two images to each preset, ‘In’ and ‘Out’. The ‘In’ image modulates amplitude and pan position for the audio signal before it triggers the resonator. The ‘Out’ image modulates the signal output of the resonator. Each image has separate timing and so complex rhythms and textures can be obtained easily.  Kaleidoscope is a great electronic music tool where you create, compose, design and transform music and sound in a unique environment that invites exploration.

And as if the original Library wasn´t big enough you have an optional 14K if you also go for the Galbanum Architecture Vol 01 KS.


Below is a video by Blue Phoenix adding more meat to the bone:

Kaleidoscope comes with hundreds of tuning files and for most users, simply tuning the pixels to the normal chromatic scale, or to one of the harmonics scales will be sufficient.  For those who want to explore there are loads of options, once a tuning file is assigned to the pixels, then one has the option to have the tuning repeating at octaves, add harmonic partials to the tuning, or to duplicate pitches etc. The tool has thousands of options for tweaking the sound – high pass and low pass filters, with several different modes, the wave-shaping controls, the width control for stereo spread, and a random pitch control, which can, for example, randomize pitch levels in the case where duplicates of given pitches have been selected. In genres focusing on experimental soundscapes or minimal techno you have a massive opportunity to create interesting pads and repetitive rhythms. Subtle changes to the controllers opens up many new possibilities – an indication of this is provided in the track below:

Summary of the UI:

Kaleidoscope-GUIAcross the top are the preset controls, and the resonator type selectors.   Below that are the tuning, image map, and timing controls.  The large central area contains one of the two image maps.  Sound amplitude is shown in red, yellow and green.  The tuning of the pixels is shown in blue.  The panels on the left and right contain timbre and tuning controls.  The upper left panel is a mixer to set dry and internal white noise sources in balance, and to set the output level of the wet signal.  The upper right panel selects which image maps are currently active and in which mode, and contains controls to display wave-shaping curves and aspects of the interface.


For anyone interested in creative sound design 2CAudio´s Kaleidoscope is a must. Kaleidoscope certainly unlocks endless new and rhythmic iterations of existing sounds and can be that missing piece of the puzzle that will make your next track climb the charts. All in all it is great to see that the legacy of Daphne Oram is so lovingly being cared for in the 21st century.

For more audio make sure to check out the SoundCloud page below:

Read more and purchase Kaleidoscope here: